What to Know
- Schools in the nation’s second-largest school district will close, effective Monday, for at least two weeks
- Family Resources Centers will open beginning Wednesday and be staffed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- A family resource guide was being put together and will be provided to parents before Monday’s closures
Schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District will close, effective Monday, for at least two weeks as Southern California grapples with the rapid spread of coronavirus, the district announced Friday after an emergency board meeting.
So far, no cases of COVID-19 have been connected to the second-largest school district in the United States. LAUSD schools had remained open during the pandemic to the district’s hundreds of thousands of students.
An emergency meeting of the Los Angeles Unified School District board was called for Friday morning to consider the district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The LAUSD board members met behind closed doors before the district announced the decision, which includes the San Diego Unified School District, in a news release.
“California has now entered a critical new phase in the fight to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said in a joint statement with San Diego Schools Superintendent Cindy Marten. “There is evidence the virus is already present in the communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread.”
Information will be provided to students, parents and staff members later Friday. The district directed staff to continue providing nutrition and other support through family resource facilities, the statement continued.
The LAUSD has an estimated K-12 enrollment of 557,560 students. Factoring in special day classes, continuation and opportunity schools, and early and adult education, the estimated enrollment is 673,849.
Plans are in place for students to continue to learn during the closure, and 40 family resource centers will be open to provide daycare for families that need it, Beutner said. Students will have a plan to take home with them Friday and additional support will be given to students as they transition to a different way of learning and teachers adjust to a different way of teaching, he said.
“This is a difficult decision, but necessary, as we try to slow the spread of the virus,” Beutner said. “Los Angeles Unified serves a high-needs population, and our schools provide a social safety net for our children. The closing of any school has real consequences beyond the loss of instructional time. This is not an easy decision and not one we take lightly.”
Special education centers in the district will close, but students and families will continue to have access to the services the center provide, Beutner said.
Family Resources Centers will open beginning Wednesday and be staffed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Children will have a warm meal, engage with their peers and pursue their different studies,” Beutner said. “And they’ll be safe.”
A family resource guide was being put together and would be provided to parents before Monday’s closures, he said.
Beutner provided the following numbers for families and others with questions. The hotlines are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
- Families: 213-443-1300
- School Leaders: 213-241-2000
- Employees: 213-241-2700
“These next two weeks will be difficult and we are not certain what lies ahead after that,” Beutner said. “You have my unwavering commitment to do all we can do to help you and your children.”
Several districts throughout California have opted to shut down classes, including those in San Francisco and Ventura County. Long Beach schools will be closed Monday through April 20.
The first California district to close was Northern California’s Elk Grove Unified.
On Thursday, United Teachers Los Angeles, the largest teachers’ union for the district, called for Beutner to close schools by Monday due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is rough. This is a rough time,” United Teachers LA’s Alex Caputo-Pearl said at Friday’s news conference announcing the closures. “We’re going to get through this together. All employees, all parents, all students.”
The open session item for Friday’s meeting that “an emergency situation exists” suggested that the board would be voting on whether to shut down LAUSD schools.
There are more than 700,000 students in LAUSD schools and about 60,000 paid employees in the district, a representative for the district said.